Monday, January 31, 2011

beer chicken (crockpot)

Astonishingly easy and presumably flexible (and based on this recipe from one of my favorite bloggers).

After this was done, I removed the chicken and the vegetables, took off all the usable meat, threw the bones back in the slow cooker, added water up to the top, and cooked on low overnight. Cool, skim, strain... instant delicious broth. Woo!
  • 7-8 lb oven roaster chicken (Although my grocery store often only has 5lb+ fryers, and they work fine too. Just gives less meat.) [Mine was about 5 pounds too.]
  • One onion cut into large pieces
  • Several stalks of celery, with their leafy tops (I use 2-3)
  • 1 orange, quartered
  • 1 bottle of Guinness draught beer [I used Sam Adams]
  • 4 whole cloves of garlic [I added]
  • 1 large carrot, sliced into 1-inch pieces [I added]
  • Salt, pepper, paprika, thyme [I added savory]
Put the chicken in the crockpot (recipe says "boobs up" but I think I actually did it backward? I can't imagine it matters). Layer all the veggies in around it. Pour the beer over everything. Sprinkle on the spices.

Cover and cook on low for at least 5 hours. Mine was on for more like 8, and then on warm for another few... don't think you can go wrong here. I didn't measure the temperature, but the chicken was clearly cooked through -- no pink anywhere.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Roasted chicken with cherry port glaze

The original recipe from Cooking Light called for cornish hens, which you are free to use. Gaby, however, once asked why we were eating baby chickens when I had made cornish hens -- so we don't make them in our house any more. Which is sad, because they're not actually baby chickens and are, in fact, rather good.

1/2 cup cherry preserves
1/2 cup port
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 whole chicken

Preheat oven to 400°. Combine preserves, port, ginger, vinegar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; cook 9 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Remove and discard giblets and necks from chicken. Rinse chicken with cold water; pat dry. Remove skin; trim excess fat. Sprinkle evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes. Brush chicken with cherry mixture; bake 40 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in the meaty part of thigh registers 165°, brushing with cherry mixture every 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Let stand 5 minutes.

Cauliflower with toasted panko topping

Catching up on some things we tried that were really, really good. (not as good as that chocolate-peanut spread, but still)

This is from Cooking Light

6 cups cauliflower florets
2 T. water
3 T. olive oil, divided
1/2 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 T. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper

Mix cauliflower and 2 T. water in microwave safe bowl. Microwave at high for 6 minutes or until crisp tender. Drain. Heat 1 1/2 T. oil in large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add panko to pan; cook 3 minutes or until toasted, stirring constantly. Remove panko from pan. Heat remaining 1 1/2 T. oil and garlic in pan over medium high heat. Add cauliflower, saute 5 minutes or until golden,stirring occasionally. Add panko, parsley, salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Serves 8

Chocolate-peanut spread

Do not pass go. Do not stop to think.
Instead, gather up all the ingredients for this and make it immediately.
Oh yum.
Katie keeps licking her tasting spoon and saying "delicious!" It really, really is.

Smitten Kitchen's (of course) chocolate-peanut spread.

You can use already roasted peanuts she says, but I bought some raw peanuts from the nice folks at Nuts Online. Cheap, and they ship/deliver the very next day.

You want this. Trust me.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

From the 2010 Martha Stewart Holiday Cookies magazine.

These are essentially chocolate snickerdoodle cookies and they are delicious.

Makes almost 4 dozen.

2 1/4 C AP flour
1/2 C unsweetened cocoa powder
2 t cream of tartar
1 t baking soda
1/2 t coarse salt
2 sticks butter, softened
1 3/4 C sugar, divided
2 large eggs
2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t chile powder such as arbol, chipotle or ancho (I used chipotle)

Preheat oven to 400. Whisk together dry ingredients EXCEPT cinnamon and chile powder and sugar; set aside. In a stand mixer, beat 1.5 C sugar and butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Scrape down side of bowl and add eggs; beat to combine. Slowly add flour mixture and beat on slow speed until combined.

In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 C sugar, cinnamon and chile powder. Form heaping tablespoons of dough into balls and roll in mixture. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 2" apart. Bake 10 minutes, rotating cookie sheet halfway through baking time. Cookies should be set in the middle and starting to crack. Let cool on sheet for 5 min. before removing to cooling rack to cool completely before storing.

*The heat from the chile powder is not so overwhelming that a wee one couldn't eat these cookies but if concerned, leave it out.

butternut squash and parmesan pasties

I knew that these empanada-like things are called "pasties" in the UK, but the word still makes me think of strippers. Ah well.

Anyway, these are kind of awesome. Don't be put off by the dough -- which is really easy to make -- because this actually is pretty quick to put together, and it looks and tastes like something you'd get in a restaurant. Mm.

Also, I used a butternut squash I'd already roasted... I have a hard time believing these spend long enough in the oven to fully cook the squash, but the rest of the recipe worked fine, so maybe so. But this is also a great use of leftover roasted squash.

Makes 2 large or 4 small pasties (I got six or seven, using a salad plate as a guide to cut them out)

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
2/3 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
6-8 tablespoons ice water

8 ounces butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 cm cubes
1 medium red onion, diced [I used regular]
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon finely chopped sage [I used some dried]
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted [I skipped]

Sea salt
Freshly ground white pepper (or black)
1 egg, beaten

To make dough
Sift flour and salt into a large bowl. Using a pastry blender or knife, cut butter into flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. [I just did this with my fingers.]

Add 1 tablespoon of ice water at a time, gently tossing between additions, until the dough just holds together. Shape dough into a ball and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before rolling out.

Before rolling out the dough, let it soften slightly so that it is malleable but still cold. On a lightly floured surface, roll it out to 1/8-inch thick. Cut out circles using a plate or bowl as a guide.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

To make pasties
In a large bowl, combine butternut squash, onion, garlic, sage, parsley, Parmesan cheese, and pine nuts. [I'd also put the salt and pepper into this step.]

Spoon mixture over half of each dough round, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge. Sprinkle well with salt and pepper.

Moisten the edges of the dough with beaten egg. With cool hands, fold the pastry over and crimp the edges. (Use any crimping technique you like, just make sure it is well sealed. For the traditional Cornish method, see this YouTube video.) Cut a small slit in the top of each pasty. Brush all over with beaten egg.

Bake until golden and cooked through, about 40 minutes. Serve hot or warm.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Broccoli Cheese Casserole

Broccoli recipe 2 of 2 for fooling babies into loving veggies. Big sis doesn't need to be fooled; she likes her veggies, but I'm not above fooling baby for now since currently, all the little carefully steamed and diced veggies dot my dining room floor at the end of dinner. NOW he'll eat broccoli and like it. Oh, yes he will...BWAH-HAhahahahaha!

Thanks to Elise and Hank

2 pounds broccoli, stems removed (can use vegetable peeler to peel, then slice and eat like celery), large florets cut, yielding about 8 cups of broccoli florets
Salt for blanching water
2 strips of thick-cut bacon (about 2 ounces), cut crosswise into 1/4-inch wide strips
1/3 cup all purpose flour
5 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup cream
1 cup whole milk
2 to 3 teaspoons of freshly cracked black pepper (1 to 2 teaspoons if using fine ground black pepper)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
8 ounces cheddar cheese, grated


1 Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (1 Tbsp salt for 2 quarts of water). Add the broccoli florets and boil for 3-5 minutes or until just tender enough so that a fork can easily pierce the floret, but still firm. Strain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.

2 While the water in step one is coming to a boil, cook the bacon pieces on medium heat in a frying pan until lightly browned, but not crisp. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the excess fat. Set aside.

3 Preheat oven to 425°F. Butter a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish. In a bowl, whisk the eggs into the flour, then whisk in the cream and milk. Add the black pepper (more or less to taste), salt, and mustard. Mix in about a third of the cheese.

4 Place the parboiled broccoli florets in the casserole dish, sprinkling about a third of the cheese over the broccoli florets as you lay them down. Sprinkle the bacon pieces over the broccoli. Pour the egg, cream, milk, cheese mixture over the broccoli, moving the broccoli pieces a bit so that the mixture gets into all the nooks and crannies. Sprinkle the casserole with the remaining cheese.

5 Bake for 25-40 minutes, or until set. Once the top has browned, you may want to tent with aluminum foil to keep from burning.

Serves 5 as a main course, 10 as a side.

Hippie Rice

Baby T's becoming a bit...we'll say "selective" his eating choices. I'm going to try two broccoli recipes this week to see if we can get some more cruciferous veggies into him.
From Bittman

Makes: 4 servings
Time: About 45 minutes
Sadly (or not), it sometimes feels that the only remnant of hippie culture in modern life is the popularity of health food. Unfortunately, much of what goes under the name “health food” tastes good only with the help of certain psychoactive drugs (come to think of it, there’s another holdover), but hippies did have a few decent ideas in the kitchen. How wrong can you go with brown rice, broccoli, sunflower seeds, and raisins? For best results, serve while wearing a tie-dyed apron and playing folk music in a VW van.
• 1⁄3 cup sunflower seeds
• 1 cup any long-grain brown rice
• Salt
• 1 head broccoli (about 1 pound), cored and roughly chopped
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1⁄3 cup raisins
• 1⁄2 teaspoon red chile flakes, or to taste
• Lemon wedges
1. Put the sunflower seeds in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat and toast, shaking the pan often, until they begin to brown but don’t burn, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the seeds from the pan and let cool in a big serving bowl.
2. Put the rice in the pan and add water to cover by about 1 inch. Add a pinch of salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles gently. Cover and cook until most of the water is absorbed and the rice is just getting tender, 20 to 30 minutes.
3. Pack the broccoli into the pan on top of the rice—don’t stir; just leave it on top—and add a little more liquid if the water is evaporating too quickly. Replace the lid and continue cooking, adding a small amount of water if the pan boils dry, until the rice and broccoli are both tender, 5 to 10 more minutes. Transfer the rice and broccoli to the bowl with the sunflower seeds and toss with the oil, raisins, and red chile flakes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve immediately or at room temperature with the lemon wedges.
Hippie Rice with Tofu. Use a large saucepan and add 1 pound cubed tofu to the pan along with the broccoli in Step 3. Use extra-firm or firm tofu if you want the cubes to keep their shape; use silken tofu if you want it to melt into the rice.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Steak tips with peppered mushroom gravy

I picked up a Cooking Light magazine a couple of weeks ago that was filled with recipes and none of the articles. I've been sort of planning my way through it, and this was the first recipe we tried.

2 cups uncooked egg noodles
Cooking spray
1 pound top sirloin steak, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1 (8-ounce) package presliced baby bella mushrooms
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cook noodles according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.
While noodles cook, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add steak; sauté 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove from pan; cover.
Melt butter in pan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and mushrooms; sauté 4 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Stir in soy sauce. Sprinkle flour over mushroom mixture; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add broth, stirring constantly. Add pepper, salt. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes or until thickened. Return beef to pan; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated.

Country-fried steak and gravy

This is not low-fat, or healthy eating by any stretch of the imagination. But by cooking it at home, and being careful about what you use, you can at least lighten it up.
This is adapted from a Cooking Light recipe. Ernie made it for dinner the night I got into the car accident, and it was super tasty.

3 tablespoons fat-free milk
2 large egg whites
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 (4-ounce) sirloin cubed steaks
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, low-salt beef broth

Combine 3 tablespoons milk and egg whites in a shallow dish, stirring with a whisk. Combine 1/3 cup flour and next 4 ingredients (1/3 cup flour through pepper) in a shallow dish. Working with 1 steak at a time, dip in egg mixture; dredge in flour mixture. Repeat procedure with remaining steaks, egg mixture, and flour mixture.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add steaks; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove steaks from pan; keep warm.
Combine 2 1/2 tablespoons flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and broth, stirring with a whisk. Add broth mixture to pan (that you just cooked the steaks in). Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Spoon over steaks. Serve with mashed potatoes (or roasted potatoes).

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

onion rye beer bread

Not going to copy out all of the variations, but this beer bread from bread maestro Susan of Farmgirl Fare is really good, and really quick. We made the onion-rye one yesterday to eat with leftover soup for dinner... it's not exactly like regular yeast bread, but like a cross between that and a smooshier quick bread. Good and fast.

Steel-cut oats help!

Alright, I finally bit the bullet and bought some steel-cut oats. I'd like to either cook them in the pressure cooker or the slow cooker overnight. Anyone have a good recipe? I did a search of the food blog but nothing came up. Thanks!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Carrot and Sweet Potato Mash

From: Serious Eats

Yum! This is a tasty, sweet alternative to mashed potatoes. I still have a ton of carrots from the CSA that I wanted to use up, and this will go well with the pork chops on the menu for tomorrow. I think it would also be a good side dish for fall/winter holidays.

16 ounces carrots (about 4 medium)peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds
12 ounces sweet potato (about 2 medium), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup unpacked light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or allspice
1/2 cup raisins

Place carrots in medium pot and just cover with salted water. Over high heat, bring to a boil. Add sweet potatoes. Once boiling again, reduce heat to a rolling simmer and cook until carrots and sweet potatoes are tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain.

When carrots and sweet potatoes have 3 minutes left to cook, melt butter in a small pan over medium heat. Add brown sugar and applesauce and quickly stir to combine. Once brown sugar is dissolved, about 30 to 60 seconds, pour butter mixture into serving bowl.

Add drained carrots and sweet potatoes to butter mixture. Add spice and salt to taste. Mash with potato masher to preferred consistency. Stir in raisins. Let sit 2 minutes until raising plump. Serve.

African Peanut Stew

From: Simply Recipes

This is pretty similar to Kelly's Senegalese Peanut Soup, except that it has chicken in it, no kale, and is a thicker stew-like consistency. I made a couple of meals to bring to my intern who just gave birth, and got a message from her afterward saying that of all the meals that people made them, this one was her husband's favorite. I did add half a bunch of kale to it, because I liked it in the soup version.

2-3 pounds chicken legs, thighs and/or wings (I used boneless, skinless thighs)
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 large yellow or white onion, sliced
A 3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
6-8 garlic cloves, chopped roughly
2-3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
15-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
1 quart chicken stock
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup roasted peanuts
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
Salt and black pepper
Optional: half a bunch of kale, chopped
1/4 to 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro


1 Heat the vegetable oil in a large soup pot set over medium-high heat. Salt the chicken pieces well, pat them dry and brown them in the oil. Don't crowd the pot, so do this in batches. Set the chicken pieces aside as they brown.

2 Sauté the onions in the oil for 3-4 minutes, stirring often and scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté another 1-2 minutes, then add the sweet potatoes and stir well to combine.

3 Add the chicken, chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, peanut butter, peanuts, coriander and cayenne and stir well to combine. Bring to a simmer and taste for salt, adding more if needed. Cover the pot and simmer gently for 60 minutes (or longer if the chicken isn't cooked through by then). Optional: add half a bunch of chopped kale about halfway through the cooking time).

4 Remove the chicken pieces and set them in a bowl to cool, until cool enough to touch. Remove and discard the skin if you want, or chop it and put it back into the pot. Shred the meat off the bones and put the meat back in the pot.

5 Adjust the seasonings for salt and cayenne, then add as much black pepper as you think you can stand—the stew should be peppery. Stir in the cilantro and serve by itself, or with simple steamed rice.

Serves 6-8

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Breakfast Cookies

Adapted from King Arthur Flour. I love KAF so much I wish I could marry it. Seriously.

Anyway, they originally posted this recipe at the end of August and I thought, meh, I could pass on that. But it was in my email inbox this morning and I today I thought, hmm, maybe? KAF will tell you that they aren't intended to be eaten every morning for breakfast and honestly I'm only making them for Michael. He's half Hobbit and requires a second breakfast no matter how big of a bowl of oatmeal he eats in the morning. Also, I think these would be good to take on a weekend trip or make them for a hostess gift next time you spend the night at a friend's house.

As with most recipes, I cut the sugar. You won't notice that it's missing.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup + a little more natural peanut butter
3/4 cups brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/3 cup milk (I used non-fat)
7 oz or 1.5-ish C KAF white whole wheat flour
1/3 cup dried milk (I used non-fat)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
4.5 C add-ins of your choice (I used rolled oats, cooked quinoa, unsweetened flaked coconut, almond meal and a 7 oz bag of Sunmaid Fruit Bits)

1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2) In the bowl of your mixer combine the butter, peanut butter, brown sugar, and vanilla. Beat on medium high speed until lightened and fluffy.

3) Add in the eggs and liquid milk, mix until well combined. Be sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl once or twice.

4) On low speed mix in the flour, dried milk, cinnamon, and salt. Mix until the dough is cohesive. Add 4 1/2 cups total of your favorite add ins and mix until all are incorporated.

5) Scoop generous 1/4 cup mounds (I used a #24 scoop and got about 28 cookies) of batter 2 inches apart on the parchment lined sheets. Slightly flatten each mound. This recipe contains no leaveners, so the cookies will only spread and rise slightly.

6) Bake the cookies for 18 to 22 minutes, until lightly browned. Do not over-bake or the cookies will be dry and crumbly. Cool on cookie sheets for 5-8 minutes. Move to a rack to cool completely. Yield: lots of cookies, depending on size.

Based on my add-ins and qty of cookies, the nutritional content is 234 kcals, 2.6 g fiber and 7.3 g protein.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

sausage, kale and white bean soup

Alissa found this delightful site, which features Weight Watchers points for all of its delicious-sounding recipes. This is the first one I tried, with some fairly substantial modifications, and it was really great... even the non-WW-ing among us would like it, I believe.

Original recipe here.

Servings: 4 Serving Size: 2 cups Calories: 253 Old Points: 5 pts • Points+: 7 pts
  • 1.25 lb homemade turkey sausage meat [safe bet to say I will never ever ever make my own sausage meat; I used Wegman's roasted garlic chicken sausage]
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 bunch kale - rinsed, leaves removed from the ribs & rough chopped [I used 1.5 bunches, plus carrots and celery]
  • 1 cup Cannellini or Northern beans - drained and rinsed
  • 4 cups fat free chicken stock [I used veg]
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 small pinch dried red pepper flakes (optional)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • [I also think cheese to sprinkle on the top is non-optional for this recipe]
Heat oil over medium-high heat in a medium sized pot. Add sausage meat, breaking it up with a metal spatula or spoon into large chunks until completely cooked.

[I then removed the sausage meat and sauteed the garlic with 2 freakishly large carrots and 2 large celery stalks, chopped into medium-sized pieces. You could also add onions, zucchini, whatever. Saute until veggies are tender-ish, about 6 or 7 minutes, and throw sausage back in.]

Add the water, stock, beans and red pepper flakes (if using) and stir thoroughly. Simmer on low for 10 minutes, covered.

Throw in kale and allow to simmer for another 10 minutes covered. Adjust salt and pepper to taste [and put on a T or two of grated cheese]. Divide into four bowls and serve hot.

Black Beluga Lentil Soup with Roasted Tomatoes

Adapted from Everybody Likes Sandwiches.

So, I, um, have a lot of lentils in my pantry right now. And it's winter and quite cold even for NorCal. We've had to scrape the windshield of the car way more than I remember doing in the past 2 years. I know, my life is hard but, whatever, I put in my time already. But this is about lentils. Lentil soup is the perfect dinner on a dark cold winter night. Well, one of the most perfect dinners anyway.

I also had bowl of cherry tomatoes hanging around and it was about darned time that I made this soup since I only bookmarked it like, 7 months ago. It was delicious.

1 C beluga lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 small onion, diced
1 bay leaf
1 t-ish red pepper flakes (or to taste)
S&P to taste
olive oil
1 quart veg stock
1 pint cherry tomatoes

Preheat oven to 400. Prepare a baking sheet with foil (I am all about easy clean up) and dump on the tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with S&P. Roast about 20 minutes or until tomatoes are done to your liking.

In the meantime, cook onions in a smidge of oil in your favorite dutch oven over medium heat. Add chili flakes, bay leaf, lentils and lots of pepper. Pour over stock and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for about 20 minutes or until lentils are done. Black lentils (Puy lentils would be good here, too) won't break down and turn to mush like red and brown lentils; they should be al dente. Dump in tomatoes (juice and all) and sprinkle in some salt to taste. Stir to combine then serve. I sprinkled mine with some TJ's reduced-fat feta that I had in the fridge and it was mighty tasty. Dinner was on the table in just under 30 minutes.

Friday, January 07, 2011

cherry applesauce

Friends, I have discovered the secret to truly awesome homemade applesauce, and I'm here to share it with you.

Take a bunch of frozen cherries (or other fruit) that weirdly have too much ice all over them and put them in a big pot over medium heat. When the cherries defrost, there will be about a quarter inch of melted cherry-ish water.

Here is the secret... add APPLE CIDER, not water, until there's about half an inch of liquid in the pot. Throw in a cinnamon stick or two and bring to a boil.

Add as many apples (peeled, cored, sliced thinly) as you'd like. I added six medium-sized apples and there were probably 1.5 cups of cherries in my frozen bag, but it doesn't matter -- if you wind up with too much liquid, it will cook down.

Cook on medium for 30 minutes or more, periodically adding more cider if it starts to stick to the bottom.

When the apples have mostly fallen apart, remove from heat and puree with an immersion blender to your desired smoothness level.

Eat alllllll the applesauce, which is so delicious because of the APPLE CIDER!!!!!11!!1

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Apricot bbq chicken wings

Ernie tells me I've made a recipe like this before. I contend I haven't made one exactly like this, and a search of this here food blog shows one apricot chicken that I did make, and two other postings for the exact same baked apricot chicken recipe.
We like apricot chicken, apparently.
This, however, was super easy and not on the food blog. And I'm lazy, so I didn't follow the recipe exactly. If you're interested in being precise, I encourage you to go here and do it the "right way."
Or make it like this.

1 jar apricot preserves
1 c. bbq sauce (whatever kind is lurking in your fridge)
at least 3 pounds chicken wings (partially frozen)
The partially frozen chicken, by the way, is my ace in the hole when it comes to cooking chicken in the slow cooker -- otherwise it always tastes really dried out and overcooked to me.

Put the chicken wings in the slow cooker. Pour bbq sauce and preserves on top. Cover, leave alone for eight hours.
Eat. Listen to your daughters make happy sounds about tasty chicken. (that last part is optional)

Monday, January 03, 2011

Red Lentil Dahl

I heard the host of Splendid Table interview Raghavan Iyer in November who described one method for dahl. It's sooo delicious.

In a saucepan -
1 C Red lentils
"A couple of cups of water"
Bring to boil and then simmer until water is absorbed and texture is smooth. Keep an eye on these.

Make the flavor base in a skillet -
3 T veg or canola oil (or ghee)
1 t cumin seeds
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 T ginger, grated
1 t turmeric
1-2 chilies (you decide how hot you like it)
1-2 tomatoes, chopped (optional)
handful of cilantro, chopped
salt to taste

Heat the oil over med-high heat. Toss in the cumin seeds when the oil is hot - they should sizzle.
When they turn red-brown and turn aromatic, add the onion, garlic, ginger and chilies. Turn heat to medium and allow to cook slowly until very soft (8-10 min).
Stir in turmeric and tomato (if using).
Stir in cilantro.
Allow flavors to combine over med-low heat for another few minutes.

Scrape contents of skillet into pot of lentils and mix well.

Iyer's assertion was that dhal accompanies every Indian meal, but I could eat this alone for dinner over rice.

Three Very '80s Snacks for Entertaining

My parents have been friends with one particular couple since college. They have daughters just about the ages of my sister and I, and they used to live about 90 minutes away, so our families visited or road tripped together several times a year throughout the 1980s. When we celebrated New Year's Eve or another festive occasion, these three snacks always made an appearance. They are VERY retro, but we've made some adjustments over time, so you'll be sure to love them too. Sorry I didn't get this one out there before the season of entertaining came and went, but now you can plan your first celebration of 2011 with these in your toolbox!

This is tastier than any Whl Fds or other grocery store kind.
1 pkg Knorr vegetable soup mix
1 16 oz tub of sour cream
1 small can of sliced water chestnuts
2 pkgs of frozen spinach (this is the adjustment we make from the Knorr pkg directions - double spinach = good for you! :)

Loaf of pumpernickel bread, cubed or box of favorite crackers (If you're really fancy, you can do a pumpernickel bread bowl. G can make us one in her no-knead pot)

Chop water chestnuts into slivers (use the whole can or the leftovers will languish in your fridge for weeks. a mezzaluna is great for this task).
Thaw and drain spinach pkgs.
Stir all ingredients together and allow to chill overnight for best results.
Serve with cubed pumpernickel or crackers

(note - the sauce amount is a personal preference. our feeling is, the saucier the better. my sister is the only one who can really get this right anymore.)

7 C Crispix cereal (a mix of corn, rice & wheat is a must - I wish they sold a mixed box!)
2 C mixed nuts, heavy on the cashews
1 C mini pretzels
6 T melted butter or margarine
1/2 t garlic salt
1/2 t onion salt
4 t lemon juice
4 T Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 250
Combine cereal, nuts & pretzels.
Stir sauce ingredients together.
Toss snack mixture with sauce mixture until evenly coated.
Bake mixture in 13x9x2 baking dish for about 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes
Spread on opened brown paper bags to cool.
Store in airtight containers

(Yes Virginia, there is Velveeta in this recipe. If this doesn't get me kicked off the food blog roll, nothing will!)

2 blocks Velveeta cheese, cubed
1/2 green pepper
1 onion
1 small jar of pimentos
1 can chili without beans
2 t chili powder
1 T Worcestershire sauce
tortilla chips

In a double boiler, melt Velveeta, stirring constantly.
Finely chop pepper, onion & pimentos
Add remaining ingredients & stir until well-blended.
Simmer 2 hours
Serve w chips for dipping

It's not cooking, but you'll love 'em.

Pork and Apples with Cider Cream Sauce

From an issue of RelishMag that my mom brought over one day. Just resurfaced in the annual clean out the inbox ritual.
Boy, did we like this.

2 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into 12 (2-inch thick) slices (medallions)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 tablespoons butter
3 Granny Smith apples, unpeeled and thickly sliced
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced (about ½ cup)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Sauce (commenters said to double it...uh, OK!)
1/2 cup apple cider
1/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

To prepare pork, place medallions in between sheets of plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet or a heavy skillet, flatten each piece to an even thickness of about 1/4 inch. Remove plastic wrap and season both sides of medallions with salt and pepper.

Heat a 12-inch sauté pan or skillet over high heat. Add vegetable oil. When oil starts to smoke, place half the meat into pan and sauté on both sides until well browned and thoroughly cooked. Transfer to a plate and keep warm. Repeat with remaining meat.

To prepare apples, reheat pan over high heat. Add butter. When hot, add apples, shallots, rosemary, sugar and salt. Sauté until apples are golden brown and tender, about 8 minutes, shaking pan occasionally.

To prepare sauce, add cider, broth and rosemary to pan. Cook, whisking to scrape up any browned bits, over high heat, about 5 minutes. Add heavy cream; reduce heat to medium and simmer until mixture thickens to sauce consistency, 5 to 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper.

Return apples and pork to the pan. Simmer several minutes. Serves 6.

Tips from the Test Kitchen
Wine Pick: To contrast the richness of this dish, you can’t go wrong with a dry Riesling, especially one with orchard-fruit notes to complement the apples in this dish. Go for Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Dry Riesling ($9) for a nicely fruity—and value-priced—bottle. – Wini Moranville

Baked Macaroni & Cheese

this is Mark Bittman's recipe from How to Cook Everything. I wish I liked my mom's recipe as much...

2 1/2 C milk
2 bay leaves
1 lb cut pasta (I like cavatappi/celantini)
4 T (1/2 stick) butter
3 T flour
1 1/2 C grated cheese, such as sharp Cheddar or Emmenthal
1/2 C freshly grated Parmesan cheese
S&P to taste
1/2 C or more bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 400. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Cook the milk with the bay leaves in a small saucepan over med-low heat. When small bubbles appear along the sides, about 5 minutes later, turn off the heat and let it stand. Salt the boiling water and cook the pasta to the point where it needs another minute or two to make it tender. Drain it, rinse it quickly to stop cooking, and place it in a large bowl

[Make sure you have your warmed milk ready before you start this step b/c the butter-flour-milk step is time sensitive) In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 3 T of the butter; when it is foamy, add the flour and cook, stirring until the mixture browns, about 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaves from the milk and add about 1/4 C of the milk to the mixture, stirring with a wire whisk all the while. As soon as the mixture becomes smooth, add a little more milk, and continue to do so until all the milk is used up and the mixture is thick and smooth. Add the cheese and fold in until smooth and creamy.

Pour the sauce over the noodles, toss in the Parmesan and season with S&P. Use the remaining butter to grease a 9x13 inch or like sized baking pan and turn the noodle mixture into it. top liberally with bread crumbs and bake until the crumbs turn brown, about 15 minutes. Serve hot.

Butternut Squash Risotto

This was absolutely gorgeous, so easy to make and even my strictly carnivorous husband loved it. The secret to good risotto is good stock, added slowly. This is adapted from a recipe from Waitrose.

Serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
½ butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cubed (about 300g peeled weight) - (I left the skin on because I roasted the squash first and the skin is edible and crispy)
750ml hot vegetable stock
325g carnaroli or other risotto rice
½ bag fresh spinach (a couple of large handfuls)
120g pack goat's cheese, sliced thinly

1. Heat the oil in a deep pan, then add the onion and sauté for 4-5 minutes until slightly softened.

2. You can either add the squash and continue cooking for a further 4-5 minutes until it starts to colour or you can do as I did and roast the squash instead while you're cooking the risotto
(toss the cubes in a bit of olive oil and salt and put in a roasting tin in the oven at about 200C/400F) . I thought the roasted squashed added a deeper flavour.

3. Add the risotto rice and about a third of the stock to the pan. Simmer until the stock is absorbed. Continue adding stock in small amounts, stirring occasionally and only adding more when the liquid is nearly absorbed.
The rice takes about 25-30 minutes to cook.

4. Remove from the heat, season to taste then stir in the spinach and the roasted squash, cover and allow the spinich to cook in the residual heat. Place the goat's cheese slices over the surface of the risotto. Cover again and leave for a further 1-2 minutes to allow the cheese to melt a little.

sweet & spicy stirfry

I just made this sauce up, loosely based on a WW recipe (I think you need a login to access that link, though) and am feeling mighty proud of myself.

2 T minced ginger
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 T mirin
2 T jarred hoisin sauce
2 T soy sauce
several dashed Thai chili-garlic sauce
crushed red pepper

Mix everything together. Saute veggies and protein (I used string beans, mushrooms, a yellow pepper, onions, and chicken) and stir 3/4 of the sauce in to heat through at the end. I reserved 1/4 of the sauce to mix in with the rice noodles, which I ran under cold water and cut up with scissors, then mixed in with the rest of the stirfry.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Crustless mini-quiches

One more recipe and I'm done for today.
I'm awful about breakfast. I forget to pack it, I have no time to make it in the morning, I end up grabbing something from Starb*cks or I go without and then am starving by 10 a.m.
My all-encompassing goal for 2011 is "less." Less eating out, less money leaving my wallet, less weight on my hips.
Having breakfast ready to grab in the morning will help with that.

This is adapted from The Kitchn -- I didn't use their zucchini filling because I didn't have any zucchini in the house. Instead I had some leftover bacon from yesterday's breakfast and I crumbled some in each mini muffin cup. Next time, definitely using the zucchini. Or maybe some sauteed spinach.

1/4 c. cornstarch
1 1/4 c. whole milk
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 c. heavy cream
3/4 t. kosher salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg
oil for the pan
1/4 cup gruyere or parmesan, grated
filling of choice (sausage, veg, bacon, herbs)

Heat oven to 450 degrees.
Prepare Batter: Put the cornstarch in a medium bowl. Whisking steadily, slowly pour in 1/2 cup of the milk, mixing until quite smooth. Whisk in the whole eggs and egg yolks, mixing again until smooth, then gradually whisk in the rest of the milk, the cream, salt, and nutmeg. Use immediately or refrigerate, covered, for up to one day. If using the next day, be sure to re-whisk.
Oil mini muffin tins well. Put a pinch grated cheese into each muffin cup, a teaspoon of zucchini mixture, and pinch of chopped fresh basil. Pour 1 tablespoon of the batter into each muffin cup.
Bake until the quiches puff and start to turn golden, 15-18 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes and then carefully run a paring knife around the rim of each muffin cup. Carefully lift each quiche out of its cup.
Mini quiches freeze very well. Let cool, then freeze in a single layer in a covered container. Reheat on a cookie sheet in a 400 degree oven for about 5-10 minutes.

baked potato soup

Based loosely on a few different recipes I found, primarily this one.

2 lbs. potatoes, peeled if you want
2 large carrots
2/3 c flour
5 cups milk; I used 1%
1 cup (4 ounces) reduced-fat shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese (I used the generic Wegman's 2% milk stuff)
a few T chives or parsley
salt and pepper
good stuff for toppings: more shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped green onions, bacon, etc.

Cook the carrots and potatoes however you like, until they're very soft. (I diced them and put them in the microwave with cold water covering them, then cooked on high for about 30 minutes. But you could also boil on the stove or bake in a 400 degree oven or whatever.) Also, you could peel the potatoes if you'd like, but I think the skins add some good flavor.

Drain the veggies and mash them with a fork, leaving some texture.

Place flour in a large pot or Dutch oven; gradually whisk in the milk. Cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly and somewhat reduced, about 10 minutes. Make sure the bottom doesn't burn.

Add mashed potatoes, cheese, parsley or chives, salt, and pepper, stirring until cheese melts. Keep cooking on low until everything is heated through, and serve with your toppings.

Makes 8 servings, at 6 points per serving.

Broccoli Soup

adapted from: Down Home with the Neelys

Makes about 9 cups, at ~ 1 pt per cup

Ok, I very loosely followed the original recipe, because I wanted to make it healthier (bumped up the veg, decreased the fat), wanted to use up some extra veg I have (turnips) and also I incorporated some suggestions in the comments (yay, suggestion for turnips!) You could certainly make it creamier by adding heavy cream, or even a can of evaporated milk, which I would have used if I had any left in the pantry. I had to use low-fat milk, because that's what I had. I'm going to put this one in the freezer to pull out for lunches when I need it.

1 Tbsp butter, room temperature
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 medium turnips, diced (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
dash or two of nutmeg
dash or two of granulated garlic
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or veg broth to make it vegetarian)
1 1/2 pounds fresh broccoli, chopped
1/2 cup whatever milk you have on hand


Melt butter in heavy medium pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, celery, turnip, salt and pepper and saute until onion is translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute, until the flour reaches a blonde color. Stir in granulated garlic and nutmeg. Add stock and broccoli and bring to boil.

Simmer uncovered until broccoli is tender, about 10 minutes. Pour in milk. With an immersion blender, puree the soup. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed, and then replace the lid back on the pot. Serve hot.

Note: By my calculations, this totals 7 points for the whole pot, and I got approximately 9 cups out of it, so I would call it a 1-point soup if you're having 1 to 1.5 cups per serving.

Old fashioned Jam Cake

This is my great, great-grandmother's recipe. I sort of love recipes like this -- I can almost imagine her standing at her kitchen counter, mixing this cake batter in a big bowl with a wooden spoon. My Gran points out that first she would have made her own butter and buttermilk, and picked, shelled and chopped the nuts.
Much different than me getting out the food processor and Cuisinart standing mixer.

½ cup sugar
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup finely crushed dried bread crumbs
½ cup finely chopped nuts

1 cup butter or margarine
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
3 cups sifted flour
1 ½ tsp. Soda
2 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Nutmeg
½ tsp, Cloves
¼ tsp. Ginger
½ tsp. Allspice
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 cup blackberry jam or preserves or you may use another flavor if you so desire (I used apricot)

Grease a 12 cup Bundt pan. Combine ½ cup of sugar, butter, bread crumbs and nuts. Press this mixture into sides and bottom of pan. Place in refrigerator and chill while mixing cake. In large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs; beat. Sift together all dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Add vanilla; fold in preserves. Bake at 325 degrees for 60-70 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes; turn out on wire rack or serving plate to complete cooling.

Weight Watchers Mexican vegetable soup

This is another one of those zero point/one point soups. I'm not sure which it is, although I suppose I'll figure it out when I start actually counting points.
I just made this, and tasted it, and it's good. As written, it's mildly spicy, so add more or less for your tastes.

Adapted from the recipe of Veggie Venture, based on what I had in the fridge

8 cups vegetable broth (I used 8 cups water and Better Than Bouillon)
14 ounces canned diced tomato, Mexican-style preferred (I used Rotel)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 small zucchini, diced
4-5 tomatillo, cubed
1/2 medium poblano chili pepper, chopped
1 medium jalapeño, membranes and seeds removed, minced (I used a pickled jalapeño)
1 medium red or yellow (Spanish) onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cumin (I used more)
1 teaspoon fresh oregano (I used 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano)
2 roasted red peppers packed in water
1 tablespoon chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 bag baby spinach
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons lime juice (omitted, because I don't have)

Heat a large pot or Dutch oven on MEDIUM HIGH. Add the vegetables and spices (canned tomatoes through as oregano) as they're prepped. Add the broth when it's ready. Whiz the red peppers and chipotle pepper in a mini food processor and stir in. Cover and bring to a boil. Once at a boil, partly uncover the soup, reduce the heat to maintain a slow simmer and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add spinach. Cook until spinach is wilted. Salt to taste and add lime juice before serving.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Crock Pot Pulled Pork

Adapted from: Brad Kamer

I don't like sauerkraut, so I'm not one to do the traditional Lancaster-county pork-and-sauerkraut New Years meal. BUT.... I will do the pork part. :) I made this pulled pork for a group of friends for gaming night tonight. You could certainly use a bottled BBQ sauce instead of making your own, but it really only takes a couple of extra minutes, and you probably have all the ingredients in your pantry already. The sauce in this recipe is a thin, vinegary sauce, which is what I like on pulled pork. You can top it with a thicker sauce at the end if you want.

1 Medium or large Sweet Onion, Chopped
3 Pounds Pork Shoulder, Trimmed of Fat
1/2 Cup Ketchup
1/3 Cup Worcestershire
1/3 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Ground Mustard
1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
Dash Red Chili Pepper Flakes (I used Aleppo pepper)
Dash of kosher Salt and freshly ground black Pepper

1. Place chopped onions in bottom of crock pot.
2. Season pork with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place pork in crock pot on top of onions.
3. Whisk together all remaining ingredients. Pour over pork in the crock pot.
4. Cook for 8 to 10 hours on "low" or about 5 hours on "high"
5. After meat is cooked, use two forks to shred the meat. If there are any bones, please discard at this time.
6. Serve as is, or on sandwich buns, with or without coleslaw. Top with BBQ sauce if desired, or just scoop up some of the liquid from the pot.

Note: if short on time, you could also just use a bottled BBQ sauce instead of making your own.

lime-y guacamole

Happy 2011! I brought this guac to our little new year's party last night. I know we already have multiple delicious guac-tastic recipes on this site, but I figured one more can't hurt, and it's a little different because of the dairy. It's also one of my old standbys that I always make without a recipe.

3 avocados, preferably really ripe ones, but this recipe is actually forgiving of under-ripeness
juice of 2 small limes
half a small onion, diced very fine
a few T sour cream or Greek yogurt, just enough to make it creamy and light green
salt & pepper
something spicy (optional; can be crushed red pepper or chopped jalepenos or some of that Thai chili garlic sauce, which is my favorite)
a dash of cumin (optional)
chopped cilantro (optional)

Using a fork, smash everything together in a bowl. It can be as chunky or as smooth as you like; I enjoy a bit of chunk.

Keep adding lime juice until you can actually identify the lime taste, which I think is the key to the deliciousness of this guac. I also think the acid help make up for sub-par avocados.

Eat with tortilla chips or bread or carb of your choosing. If you're not serving it right away, keep one or two of the avocado pits in with the guac and cover tightly to avoid browning.